Can soda trigger migraines?

Migraines can be quite intense and debilitating. Some of the symptoms that are typically linked with migraines include a pulsing or throbbing sensation that is localized in one region of the head.

Nausea or vomiting can also occur during a migraine attack along with extreme sensitivity to light. Some of the ingredients in soda products can affect the start or course of migraines. A doctor should be consulted for advice instead of attempting to self-diagnose or manage the migraines.

What are the food triggers?

There are certain foods and beverages that can instigate migraines in some individuals. The usual trigger foods include beer, red wine, aspartame, monosodium glutamate, caffeine and chocolate.


Nausea or vomiting can also occur during a migraine attack along with extreme sensitivity to light.

An individual can also suffer a migraine attack if he/she is fasting or skipping on meals. There are also various types of sodas that contain both aspartame and caffeine. Take note that aspartame is usually present in “light” or diet sodas while caffeine is found in cola or “pepper-style” beverages.

Possible explanations

In studies conducted, the attacks are believed to cause changes to the width of the blood vessels in the head. The caffeine that is present in pepper-type and cola sodas usually constricts the blood vessels in the head and body. If a migraine was triggered by overly dilated blood vessels, consuming a caffeinated soda can potentially intensify some of the symptoms. If a migraine was due to constricted blood vessels, caffeine can make the symptoms worse.

Migraines are mainly due to hereditary factors. There are certain genes that are responsible for regulating the activity of the brain cells. If an individual suffers from migraines, he/she can ask family members who have the same condition whether they find certain types of soda as a trigger or help alleviate the symptoms. In case the migraines have a clear genetic link, it is likely that the individual also shares the same triggers with parents or siblings.

Important considerations to bear in mind

There are medications that are readily available if the attacks could not be managed with changes to the diet and lifestyle. A doctor should be consulted regarding possible interactions between the medications and other prescription or over-the-counter medications currently taken.

The role of sleeping patterns should also be considered in causing or alleviating the migraines. Any changes to the sleep pattern might instigate a migraine. With this in mind, it is vital to avoid consuming any caffeinated sodas close to regular bedtime. Remember that caffeinated beverages can affect the sleep pattern, thus triggering more migraines.


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